Dating – What Christians Have Right

30Oct09

This is not the sort of topic that I ever felt I would decide to publish on this blog, but I found a very intriguing and thought-provoking book chapter that honestly, I feel can be applied to anyone in general, regardless of their religious background. It comes from the book “Religion Saves + Nine Other Misconceptions” and it is a chapter on Christian Dating. You can find the chapter on the author’s website. Before I comment on some pieces of the chapter, I first want to present a disclaimer that my comments will avoid religion wherever possible and ignore the points that cannot be touched upon without doing so. I think that the most useful part of the chapter was the respect that it really gave women, which is sometimes something that can be missing in non-Christian dating.

The sections that I found most interesting start on page 13 of the PDF, “Sixteen Christian Dating Principles for Both Men and Women”.

First, the author talks about getting the most out of your singleness and recommends that while you are not dating, you should be doing other exciting things with your life, whether that is getting an excellent education, traveling, establishing your career, or what have you. Basically, his advice is to “invest your single years in a way that they later pay a great return.” I think this is something that we often miss the point on, feeling like we always need to be with someone else to complete ourselves, when in fact a relationship will work the best when we are happy with who we are and independent on our own, rather than needing someone else to be happy with our lives.

His comment about being reasonable is also important. Non-Christian dating often tends to lead to more ups and downs in relationships, which can allow you to learn a lot about yourself, but at the same time, this can make our list of what we want and don’t want in a partner to become way too detailed. A good way to make sure that your list isn’t too specific or extravagant is to share it with some friends (of both genders, if possible) for their feedback. That being said, knowing what you want from a partner is extremely important before getting into a relationship, or it is a lot easier to compromise for momentary attraction to someone or to forget about aspects that are actually quite necessary for you to be happy.

I also really appreciated his comment that “In 1 Timothy 5:1–2, Paul tells Christian single men to treat Christian single women like sisters.” This puts a totally different angle on Christian relationships from what I have tended to assume – that it is about the man having the power, the woman working until she gets pregnant, and then staying home with the children – it adds a significant level of respect that is often missing in non-Christian relationships. But really, this sort of situation boils down to the saying we were taught in kindergarten, to do unto others as you wish others to do unto you. (Although I suppose that bypasses the men who don’t care for having a relationship – but that’s not what I’m trying to get at here.) Having respect for one another is very important and this goes both ways – women should respect men and men should respect women, equally.

I have often heard that non-Christians should not date Christians and I think that the author really helped me to understand this idea better. I think that for people who are not strongly religious, this basic idea applies as well. You should be in a relationship with someone who you have an emotional, physical, and mental attraction with and anything that is so deeply important to you as religion is to Christians who will only date Christians, should also be important to your potential partner. This also relates to the author’s idea about investing in a romantic relationship only with someone who you are entirely attracted to. Yes, to a point, compromise is key in a relationship, but there are certain key things that you cannot possibly compromise on. (Remember that list? You should have classifications on each item, such as should have one characteristic from a small set or this characteristic is absolutely important or I will not go out with this person at all.)

I do not agree with the author’s suggestion that “He should initiate and she should respond.” We are in a modern society where women have a lot more rights and capabilities than they used to. I think that it is perfectly acceptable for a woman to ask a man out – why should we sit around wondering if a man will call us back and he doesn’t have to? That’s not fair! I think that since a relationship is a partnership between two people, both people should reasonably equally take part in paying and organizing outings.

I skipped over most of the “Seven Dating Questions for [Women/Men]” sections, but the following stood out to me.

“Any man who does not consult with you, make decisions with you, ask what you think, and inquire how you feel is a selfish and inconsiderate man.” Again, this statement applies to anyone! It doesn’t matter if you’re religious or not, but women really need to learn that a man who does not respect her does not deserve to be with her.

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